Monday, 25 June 2007

Demystifying Holy Grails of Innovation

Our education system is too old to meet today's requirement.

This is likely to be a post not you would have expected. But just stay with me for a while.

The article (an article on an article originally published by Business Week) is about innovation processes. First the classic Six Sigma is considered not working by way of the lack of innovation of 3M:

The magazine illustrates the ramifications of ill-directed Six Sigma rigor by juxtaposing the leadership philosophies of James McNerney and George Buckley at 3M and showing how an over-emphasis on process-quality led to “sameness” and the gradual waning of the company’s innovative power. Process-obsession may in fact be opposed to “the new age of creativity” that propels hyper-customization and attempts to save brands from the “death spiral of commoditization.” If you measure everything you manage, risky ideas will not spark.

By contrast, Apple is receiving a lot of praise. To summarize:
The four principles of innovation from Apple’s success are:
1. Network innovation – “very welcome” vs. “not invented here”
2. User first! – design around the needs of the user not the demands of the technology.
3. Discover untapped markets – listen to what your customers do not say rather than relying solely on the requirements they articulate
4. Fail wisely – allow failure but don’t make the same mistake twice

This is all fine on paper and this blog is NOT about innovation in business. So you have asked why you should read on. Since you are here already, the relationship is about how we should "teach" our next generation.

I wrote over three years ago,
our future in the developed world is
a future where
  • repetitive tasks will be replaced by computer and machinery,

  • creativity and innovation are critical,

  • communication skill, team work and problem solving skill are important,

  • productivity must be so high that an average people will support the needs of parents who had inadequately funded their retirement and children of their own

  • Solving (new, unforeseen, complicated and complex) problem will be everyday job of citizens of the future. For the more ambitious few, they will need to come up with totally new idea to meet not-yet-filled, unknown market demands.

    This article basically has thrown out the prospect of any process as a potential "must-learn" subject for our students. The BIG question is WHAT we should teach our students today to equip them to meet challenges from the future.

    Any suggestion? Tomorrow, I shall reveal my current thinking.

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